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Gene Patenting

Back on Nov 16, 2010 I attended a panel discussion at MIT on gene patenting: balancing access and innovation. The panelists were David Altshuler, Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, James C. Greenwood, President and CEO, BIO, Chris Hansen, Senior National Staff Counsel, ACLU, Leslie Meyer-Leon, President, IP Legal Strategies, and the panel was moderated by Joshua Boger, Biotechnology Industry Organization. Below are my disjoint notes that I took. I've not verified them against the recording that was made so I maybe widely misquoting the participants.

Chris Hansen:
Patents on human genes create an condition of "let's sue somebody"
Can't patent product or law of nature
Myriad Genetic has BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 but also ownership over all mutations and versions and segments, it's only 15 segments long
Their patent is stopping research and clinical trials and prevents people from getting a second opinion
Claim is extracted DNA from body is different from source
Only DNA sequences made by nature were required
6 women with susceptibility can't get tested due to costs
Method of comparison isn't patented
Didn't make gene, can't invent around it
Patent is on body of knowledge
Myriad Genetic has stopped sharing information

James C. Greenwood:
Gene research involves isolating, purifying, and identifying all costly and complex
Gene patents haven't stifled innovation
Need to consider more than just human genes, looking at ways to feed humans, reduce fossil fuels
Need intellectual property to get venture capital funding
50,000 gene patents in use today
Leading to unintended consequences
Litigation is blunt instrument, legislation would be better

David Altshuler:
Gene patents are like patenting your nose
Gene is the unit of inheritance
Genotype is all the genes
Genetic testing variations in genes
Gene therapy
Observation is out there
Genes with variations causes diseases
Test for gene or therapy
Diseases are not caused by a single altered gene
Not a moral issue
Gene patents land grab is different now then when most were originally granted
Can't test be for X due to licensing issue
Algae patents are different from genes
Surgical procedures can't be patented

Leslie Meyer-Leon:
Patents are about legal economics
When you keep cogs out of the system
Biotech is benefitting from patents, replaced NIH budget cuts from 1980s

Joshua Boger:
Should create an infringement exception for tests or care
Myriad Genetic has said a negative judgment in pending case won't impact business

Tags: gene notes

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